The Gustavus football team will travel to Collegeville, Minn. to face 18th-ranked Saint John’s University on Saturday, September 27 at 1 p.m. The Gusties enter the contest at 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC after defeating Hamline 21-14 last Saturday, while the Johnnies come in with a record of 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the conference play after losing to Concordia 9-6 a week ago.
Saturday’s contest in Collegeville will be the 74th meeting between Gustavus Adolphus College and Saint John’s University. The Gusties trail the all-time series 31-40-2 as Saint John’s has won ten consecutive contests. Gustavus last defeated the Johnnies on October 11, 1997 when the Gusties prevailed 24-16 in Collegeville. Both squads have combined to win or share 51 conference championships, which is more than all other MIAC institutions put together.
Meet the Head Coaches
Gustavus Head Coach Jay Schoenebeck (’80), who is in his 15th season, improved his career record to 70-72 overall and 60-61 in the MIAC. Schoenebeck has led the Gusties to their second consecutive 2-0 start. Saint John’s Head Coach John Gagliardi is in his 56th season at the Johnnies’ helm with a record of 431-117-10 overall. Gagliardi surpassed Eddie Robinson for the most games coached in college football history at 589 games last Saturday.
A Glance at the Gusties
Gustavus overcame four turnovers to defeat Hamline 21-14 and claim the 450th win in the program’s history last Saturday in St. Peter. Senior Adam Lukes scored the game-winning touchdown on a three-yard run with 1:02 remaining. Junior linebacker Tony Palma led the Gusties defensively with 11 tackles, including a key sack during the final Hamline drive. The Gustie defense got on the scoreboard midway through the first quarter when senior cornerback Ethan Armstrong returned a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown. John Ostertag added the point after attempt to give the Gusties a 7-0 lead.
On the opening possession of the second half, Gustavus extended its lead to 14-0 after junior quarterback Jordan Becker completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Cameron Maurer on a ten-play drive and a successful extra point. Hamline intercepted three Jordan Becker passes in the third quarter turning two into touchdowns to tie the contest at 14-14. The Gusties took possession on their own 38 yard-line with 3:11 remaining after a Piper punt and Becker led Gustavus on a seven-play, 62-yard drive scoring drive that turned out to be the difference in the game. The Pipers drove the length of the field in the final minute but their drive stalled on the Gustavus 22-yard line as time expired.
Gustavus Game Notes
Change of Pace — Defensive coordinator Brian Bergstrom’s decision to switch to a 3-4 scheme has resulted in the Gusties limiting their opponents to just two offensive touchdowns in the first two games, while scoring one touchdown on a recovered fumble. The change in scheme also appears to have helped the pass rush as the Gusties have recorded six quarterback sacks from six different players. Junior Christian Vanek and senior Mike Fabel lead the team with 1.5 sacks each. The Gusties did not reach six team sacks until the seventh game of the 2007 season.
Battle in the Trenches — The Gustie rush defense ranks second among MIAC institutions allowing 78.0 yards per game in the first two games while the Saint John’s rush offense is averaging 117 yards per game. The Johnnies’ have allowed just 91 yards rushing per game, while Gustavus has rushed for 96.5 yards per game.
Family Affair — Three sets of brothers are on the Gustie football roster this season, including Ethan and Lucas Armstrong from Wheaton, Minn., Jordan and Logan Becker from Easton, Minn., and Nick and Jack Breckner from Wayzata, Minn. Two other football players have sibling connections at Gustavus, however it is not with the football team as Isaac Perry’s (Wabasha, Minn.) sister, Ava, is on the women’s basketball team, while Blake Noennig’s (Norwood-Young America, Minn.) sister, Malea, is on the volleyball team.
Red-Zone Scoring — Gustavus has scored four touchdowns in seven attempts in the red zone this season, for a 57 percent conversion rate. Opponents have entered the red zone seven times scoring five times for a 71 percent conversion rate, however the Gustie defense has only allowed two touchdowns forcing the opponent to settle for three field goals.
Cleaning Up Their Act — During training camp, Coach Jay Schoenebeck and his staff placed an emphasis on reducing the number of penalties. The Gusties were flagged for a single-season record of 68.3 penalty yards per game in 2007. This concerted effort appears to be paying off as Gustavus leads the conference with the fewest penalty yards per game at 27.0. Saint John’s is second at 29.3 yards per game.
A Look at the Johnnies
Saint John’s will be looking to avoid back-to-back home losses for the first time since 2001 after losing to Concordia 9-6 in its MIAC opening contest in Collegeville last week. Concordia made the big plays in the first half as the Cobbers scored on their first possession of the game, driving 85 yards on 13 rushing plays to take an early 7-0 lead with the point after attempt. Concordia registered a safety in the second quarter to extend the lead to 9-0. The Johnnies got on the scoreboard before the end of the first half when Joe Boyle hit Jakob Reding for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Saint John’s failed on a two-point conversion attempt and the Johnnies trailed 9-6 at halftime. Both defenses dominated play in the second half allowing Concordia to hang on for the victory.
The Johnnie offense has averaged 19.0 points per game in the first three contests. Coach John Gagliardi’s squad has been looking to replace record-setting quarterback Alex Kofoed. Three players, Michael Cress, Joe Boyle, and Jordan Hansel, have seen playing time, however the Johnnies have yet to settle on a permanent replacement. Saint John’s has also had difficulty hanging on to the football as the Johnnies have committed 16 fumbles while only losing five.
Defensively, Saint John’s has held opponents to an average of 10.0 points per game this season, while allowing only 124.3 passing yards per game. Junior linebacker Ryan Wimmer leads the squad with 32 tackles, including 12 solo stops, and was named to the D3football.com National Team of the Week in the first week of the season.